19 August 2021 - NPWJ News Digest on Environmental Justice & Human Rights

NPWJ press release

In Colombia, deforestation is now a crime!
NPWJ Press Release, 17 Aug 2021

In the past days, the Colombian government issued a law (Law 2111 of 2021) that modifies the Colombian Criminal Code, creating new environmental crimes, including deforestation or its promotion and financing, which can now be punished with sentences of up to 15 years. The law also strengthens the judgments of crimes that already existed in the Colombian Criminal Code, including the destruction of natural resources, which now has “ecocide” added to it.

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Mapping wildfires around the world
Al Jazeera, 19 Aug 2021

In recent weeks, the devastating effects of wildfires, which have killed more than 100 people and rendered thousands homeless, have been dominating headlines around the world. According to the European Space Agency, “fire affects an estimated four million square kilometres (1.5 million sq miles) of Earth’s land each year”. To put that in context, that is around half the size of the United States, larger than India, or roughly four times the size of Nigeria.

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An Ecuadoran town that survived illegal miners now faces a licensed operator
Mongabay, 18 Aug 2021

The town of La Merced de Buenos Aires, in Ecuador, gained notoriety when it was invaded by illegal miners in 2017; for almost two years, the area was plagued by violence, prostitution and drug addiction. Authorities evicted the miners in 2019, but now the land may become home to legal mining operations, which many residents emphatically oppose. More than 300 people spent over a month blocking the path of the machinery, trucks and employees of Hanrine Ecuadorian Exploration and Mining S.A. The Ombudsman’s Office warns that confrontations will arise and has called on local, regional and national authorities to take immediate action.

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Indigenous Amazonian communities bear the burden of Ecuador’s balsa boom
Mongabay, 17 Aug 2021

Ecuador is the world’s biggest exporter of balsa wood, most of it shipped to China. Indigenous communities in Ecuador’s Pastaza River Basin say balsa is being logged illegally in their territories. Sources say balsa logging is damaging the ecological integrity of the region and hurting Indigenous communities. The problem has reportedly spread to neighboring Peru, where Indigenous communities accuse Ecuadoran balsa loggers of felling commercially valuable trees and even kidnapping a child.

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UN weather agency: millions affected by climate change and extreme weather in Latin America and Caribbean
UN News, 17 Aug 2021

Climate-related and geophysical events resulted in the loss of 312,000 lives and directly affected more than 277 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, a new report released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) revealed on Tuesday. Extreme weather and climate change are threatening the entire region, “from the heights of Andean peaks to low-lying islands and mighty river basins”, the study, “State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020”, states. Increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, storms and retreating glaciers have all had a profound impact on human health and safety, food, water, energy security and the environment.

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Humans ‘pushing Earth close to tipping point’, say most in G20
The Guardian, 16 Aug 2021

Three-quarters of people in the world’s wealthiest nations believe humanity is pushing the planet towards a dangerous tipping point and support a shift of priorities away from economic profit, according to a global survey. The Ipsos Mori survey for the Global Commons Alliance (GCA) also found a majority (58%) were very concerned or extremely concerned about the state of the planet.

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EU urges all major economies to raise climate goals by November summit
Euractiv, 12 Aug 2021

The European Union’s top diplomat on Thursday called on the world’s biggest economies to set tougher climate targets – including a commitment to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions – in time for a global climate summit in November. At the start of the week, a U.N. report laid bare the seriousness of global warming, which is dangerously close to exceeding the limits countries agreed were needed to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change.

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